celebrities can be intimidating, whether you are hiring a
famous individual to be a spokesperson at a product launch or an
A-list band to dazzle attendees at a conference.
Following are tips for making sure you
find the right celeb for your event, plus some pointers on how to
work with your star.
Keep It Impersonal
One of the most common mistakes meeting
professionals make when hiring talent is they impose their own
personal taste or, perhaps more egregiously, their moral/political
values on their attendees and/or clients. In all cases, the
entertainment should be relevant to the goals and objectives of
your program -- and appealing to your client and/or audience.
Similarly, it is the planner’s
responsibility to guide the client and/or top management toward the
right celebrity for the function. Aiming to please the CEO alone is
downright dangerous, unless her preference coincides with the
tastes of your audience members.
While the hottest band, comic or actor
might be a tremendous draw, be prepared to defend both the logic
and the ROI of your decision to the accounting department.
On the other hand, planners often try
to play it safe by trying to find a celebrity who will please
everyone. Rest assured, it can’t be done. Therefore, don’t shy away
from the acts or individuals you know will support and illuminate
your message, even if you’re not sure everyone who will be in
attendance is a fan.
The process of securing a celebrity
depends on the type of entertainment you’re seeking and the purpose
of the event. Specialized speakers bureaus are great for finding
big-name motivational presenters and often represent a number of
Or, go directly to the source; most
stars have websites that list contact information for their
Contract details should include
specifics about the performance, including meet-and-greet times,
duration of the act, and any special content that is encouraged
(for example, a mention of your new product launch) or forbidden
(off-color language or jokes about your bald CFO).
Virtually all celebrity contracts
contain a rider -- an addendum also known as the “list of demands.”
(Check out www.thesmokinggun.com/backstagetour to view
some outrageous riders.)
Are riders negotiable? That depends, in
part, on how famous your celebrity is, but generally the answer is
yes. Keep in mind that the management layers between you and the
celebrity can be thick and virtually impenetrable. Often, their
management will ask for things about which the star couldn’t care
Other important details:
Make sure you know how the celebrity
prefers to be greeted and escorted from waiting room to the venue
or stage. Do you have the right accommodations to meet those
expectations? How does the star prefer to be addressed? Will
handlers or an entourage accompany the celebrity?
Discuss security needs. Really big-name
celebrities -- not just royally -- will require buyouts of the
floors above and below for security purposes. Even if they bring
their own security, you might need to arrange additional measures,
including bomb-sniffing dogs in key areas, for example,
particularly if the celebrity is a politician.
Keep your head. Remember that
celebrities are, first and foremost, real people. In our culture,
we tend to view them as superhuman. However, most will respond more
favorably to sincere, knowledgeable professionals than gushing